Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Revelation 14:6-13
The first angel’s proclamation is the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, with the admonition to fear God and give glory to Him, to worship Him who created all. Well, someone in an obscure tribe or tongue would have to first know about the God who created all, before he could know how that God provided salvation for him. In fact, it has been since the Reformation that the preaching of the everlasting gospel (that salvation or right- standing before God is by faith in Jesus Christ, not works) has gone forth. To this day, ministries like Wycliffe Bible Translators are taking the everlasting gospel to the last of the nations, tribes, tongues, and peoples. So this proclamation has been going forward since the time of the Reformation.
The second angel’s proclamation is the announcement that Babylon the Great is fallen. The language the angel uses is similar to language Isaiah recorded:
“Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.” Isaiah 21:9
In Isaiah’s day Babylon was still a great city – the queen city of the world, according to Strabo, covering 200 square miles, with 25 gates in each of her four walls. But under the Romans, it gradually declined, until by our era a village of 10,000 Iraqis sat atop its ruins. Saddam Hussein worked to rebuild Babylon’s former glory, restoring some of her ancient palaces and gates. However, he was overthrown long before he could complete even a portion of the work.
So there are two possibilities concerning the angel’s proclamation in Revelation 14. The first is literal. That Babylon will be restored as a great city, again the queen city of the world, and all commerce and power and influence will be seated in her, and the destruction of that city as Isaiah and Jeremiah foretold, an event still future to us as Babylon is not even a city yet, much less a great one, will prompt the second angel’s proclamation.
Or that Babylon, which has not been a city of influence really since its conquest by the ancient Romans, is not the name of a literal city, but a descriptive name of a source of citizenship of the earth, or the world, just as Zion is not a literal city but a descriptive name of a source of citizenship of heaven. In other words, the city of Babylon is the place where the citizens of the kingdoms of this world have their citizenship. Its root is the Tower of Babel, or the Tower of Babylon, for Babel is Hebrew for Babylon.
The Tower of Babel, we saw, was the source of rebellion against God, exalting the creature rather than the Creator as god, and the source of every perversion of immorality and wickedness. It was the source of human government such that a ruling elite held totalitarian sway over the oppressed people.
It is the philosophy and worldview of Babylon – rebellion against God, independence of man, worship of nature, of self, of materialism, occultism and wickedness – that will fall as the everlasting gospel is preached to all the world.
To be continued ….